|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
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Goodrich man takes grievance against city councilwoman to trial in JP court
BY BRIAN BESCH
GOODRICH — A lawsuit for slander filed by James Clark of Goodrich against Goodrich Councilwoman Nita Gokey will go to trial in Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Judge Darrell Longino's court Oct. 15. During May's meeting to swear in the newly elected city officials, Gokey read out the names of four people who cast ballots, saying they committed voter fraud. During the meeting Gokey said she would forward those names to the Secretary of State and recommend prosecution. "All I ever asked for was an apology," Clark said. "If I am not supposed to vote, I am not going to vote. But, I spent a year of my life in Vietnam, which earns me the right to vote every time there is an election." Clark said his voter's registration card states that he is a voter for the City of Goodrich. Before he voted, Clark said he verified with the Office of Emergency Management and Polk County Tax Office that he was able to vote in Goodrich. "Since May 21, when Ms. Gokey said I was guilty of voter fraud, I have asked her for an apology and to retract her statement," Clark said. "As of now, when I filed a court action, she had not. I had sent her two letters — the first one on my own — for her to retract her statement. When I went to the court to find out what I had to do, I sent her the second one, telling her exactly what was going to happen if she did not. So, it was filed in court on the (September) fourth." In June, Clark asked Gokey at a City of Goodrich meeting for an apology for the statement. Gokey, unable to address speakers in open forum, remained silent. In July's city meeting, Clark's issue was placed on the agenda, where he again asked for an apology and a retraction of her statement. Gokey responded, "I am not going to retract the statement, you voted illegally. You do not live in the city limits of the city of Goodrich. Does your tax bill show the city of Goodrich on it?" Clark said his voter's registration card showed he lived in the city of Goodrich. "Your voter's registration is an errsor, then," Gokey replied. The case will be heard on Tuesday and begins at 9 a.m. at 101 West Mill Street, Suite 152, in Livingston. The Enterprise did not list the names of the individuals Gokey accused of voting illegally to avoid repeating the potentially libelous comments. Only Clark's name is reported for the purposes of discussing his actions, but three others were mentioned in the meeting. Gokey likewise refused to recant the allegations against them.